HC Deb 28 November 1973 vol 865 cc391-2
20. Mr. Russell Johnston

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, whether he will seek to ensure the establishment of a political secretariat at the forthcoming EEC summit conference.

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

I cannot say now what will be discussed at the summit conference in Copenhagen. As regards a political secretariat, Her Majesty's Government remain of the opinion that in due course a modest secretariat would be useful. This would, of course, be for agreement with our partners.

Mr. Johnston

Does the Foreign Secretary agree that as things stand at present, every step towards European integration means, essentially, a diminution of democratic control? Is it not, therefore, most urgent that some mechanism be established which will enable a full and continuous discussion of how the Community should be democratised, how Parliament could be strengthened and how direct elections can be introduced?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

How we conduct ourselves most efficiently is a matter which we should always be discussing, but that is a matter for discussion and decision within the Council. I cannot forecast at what point we shall agree to set up the secretariat. The political machinery for helping Foreign Ministers is working reasonably satisfactorily, but the secretariat will be an improvement upon that.

Mr. Molloy

Would it not be even more disgraceful and more dangerous for this political secretariat to be established? Any decisions and directives it issued could only be read by Members of this House with no opportunity for comment, debate or amendment, and with no chance of us rejecting them.

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

I was not thinking of a political secretariat in the terms in which the hon. Member speaks. I was thinking of one which would serve the Foreign Ministers.

Sir Harmar Nicholls

Will my right hon. Friend confirm what my right hon. Friend the Minister said to my hon. Friend the Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten) that there are certain questions such as dealings with Rhodesia where they are to act directly or through the United Nations, and as though the Common Market had never existed? Are there matters which may be disregarded and which do not involve the special relationship?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

The breach of sanctions by individual firms is a matter for the individual Governments which are responsible. I cannot see that the Community could have any influence, for example, over a particular firm in France, Germany or Italy.